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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A feast for a lost friend

This post is dedicated to a lovely, friendly, honest, kind friend who last week was taken from us far too early. He was one of those people who everyone has a nice word for, and his death was tragically sudden and unexpected. He died in his home country of Sri Lanka, and I was struck with a feeling of not knowing how best to say goodbye to him given the distance between here and there.

The last times I spent with him were at his house in Kingston, Ontario, where he was living at the time, and he and his wife invited myself and another friend around for Sunday brunch. It truly was a spectacular brunch, with his wife having made a huge selection of amazing Sri Lankan dishes, and we all enjoyed the great food and great company. They told me a few times that I was very welcome to come and stay with them, but timing and money meant that I couldn't get back to Kingston during the time I was living in Canada. Of course now I wish that I had, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, is it not?

So, I decided to create my own version of a Sri Lankan feast, and share it with some friends here, in honour of my lost friend. I knew full well it would not be anywhere near as amazing as his wife's cooking but I knew I'd come up with something enjoyable to eat nonetheless. After much internet searching, and flicking through cookbooks, I came up with three mains dishes and one dessert dish. The Charred Aubergine and Coconut Curry is from a cookbook given to me by a friend (thanks Mone) and I've made it a few times over the years with great success. It really is a delicious vegetarian curry. I cannot attest to how Sri Lankan it is, but it has coconut milk in it so I hoped this would do for authenticity. The Sri Lankan Fried Rice, Pol Sambal and Wattalappan seem to be somewhat authentic recipes, if my internet skills are to be trusted. All dishes were thoroughly enjoyed by myself and my friends, and I can really recommend these recipes.

So, friend of mine, farewell. You will be sadly missed and my heart goes out to your lovely wife and beautiful baby daughter.

Charred Aubergine and Coconut Curry
From New Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown

Spice Paste
1 Tb cumin seeds
1 Tb coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds (about 10 pods)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
5 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp turmeric
1-2 chillies, deseeded (or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes)
1 tomato, cut into quarters
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar

Rest of curry
1 medium aubergine (about 250 g)
2 Tb vegetable oil or ghee
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
250 g sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into cubes
1 medium zucchini, about 200 g
400 g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400 g canned chopped tomatoes
250 mL unsweetened coconut milk
sea salt, to taste

1. To make the spice paste, dry-toast the spice seeds in a frying pan, shaking until they pop and turn lightly golden. Transfer to a blender or spice grinder, add the remaining ingredients (ginger, garlic, turmeric, chillies, tomato, sea salt, sugar) and 6 Tb water and grind to a smooth paste. Set aside.
2. Roast the aubergine directly over a high flame until charred and softened, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, roast in a preheated oven at 220 degrees C (425 F; gas 7) for about 40 minutes. Let cool, then peel and discard the skin. Don't worry if a few charred bits remain - these will add extra flavour.
3. Heat the oil or ghee in a large, heavy based saucepan (I used my Country Kitchen! :D ), add the onion and cook until softened. Add the spice paste and stir for 2 minutes to release the aromas, then add the pepper, sweet potatoes or yams, zucchini and chickpeas. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 250 mL water, then bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
4. Put the peeled aubergine in a blender, add the coconut milk and pulse to a coarse puree. Add to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Add salt, if necessary. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight.
5. Reheat, then serve with rice, coriander sprigs, yoghurt and mango chutney (or Sri Lankan fried rice and coconut sambal like me).

Spices toasting in the pan (can you hear them pop?)

Spice paste, and blended together very nicely

Curry all made, ready to sit in the fridge overnight to develop the flavours

Close-up curry shot

Sri Lankan Fried Rice
Adapted from recipes4us.co.uk and Chandra'ge's recipe

40g/2oz butter
600ml/20fl.oz. water
225g/8oz Basmati rice
½ teasp ground turmeric or saffron
60ml/2fl.oz vegetable oil or ghee
225g/8oz Peeled uncooked prawns
1 large onion, chopped
75g/3oz cashew nuts
50g/2oz raisins
50g/2oz frozen green peas
2 cloves
2 x 2.5cm/1-inch sticks of cinnamon
1 x 7.5cm/3-inch stick lemongrass

1. Heat the butter is your rice cooker until melted then add the water, rice, salt and turmeric/saffron. Mix well and cook until done.
2. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion until starting to brown. Add the prawns and cook until half done, then add the remainder of the ingredients (onion, cashews, raisins, peas, cloves, cinnamon and lemongrass) to the saucepan and continue sautéing for another minute or so. Remove from heat.
3. Once the rice is ready, mix all the components together in the large saucepan and heat for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
4. The flavor is enhanced if the mixed rice is kept (refrigerated) for about 6 hours and then reheated (microwave works well) prior to serving. I refrigerated mine in the rice cooker bowl and then just reheated it using the rice cooker. Oh and remove the cinnamon sticks and lemongrass, and the cloves if you can easily find them, unless you want to play the lets-see-who-chomps-on-a-clove-by-the-expression-on-their-face game :D

Sri Lankan Fried Rice

Pol Sambal
From Lakmali Hewa

2 cups scraped, fresh coconut or desiccated coconut (add 1/4 cup of warm water and mix well to moisten the desiccated coconut)
2 shallots, sliced
1 small green chili, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1-2 tsp Hot red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp Maldive fish (optional)
1 medium lime (or lemon)

1. Grind or chop all ingredients except coconut, in a grinder or chopper (a mortar & pestle can also be used).
2. Once the ingredients are crushed and mixed thoroughly, add the coconut.
3. Continue to grind until the coconut turns evenly red and all ingredients are well mixed. (This can also be done with fingers).
4. Squeeze half a lime. Mix well.
5. Taste and adjust salt & lime.
6. Serve with rice and curries.

Pol Sambal

Recipe adapted from Priya's Easy and Tasty Recipes

5 eggs
500 mL thick coconut milk
1/2 cup grated jaggery (palm sugar)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Whisk together the coconut milk, jaggery paste and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well, and then gradually add the coconut milk mixture, beating until very well combined.
3. Add the vanilla and spices, beating until well combined.
4. You can add some raisins and cashews now, or after you have steamed the wattalappan.
5. Pour the mixure into a mould and steam until done ( I used four individual moulds and steamed them for around 30 minutes).
6. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
7. Serve chilled.

In the water bath, about to be gently cooked in oven.

Wattalappam ready to be eaten

As well as feeding the four of us quite handsomely last night, there was perfectly enough leftovers for everyone to have a little doggy bag to take for lunch the next day.

Leftovers for lunch - sorry to coworkers for the enticing smell :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September Daring Bakers' Challenge

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Thanks Steph! 'twas a brilliant challenge!

Christmas vol-au-vent, with his little cap discarded carelessly

Yep, it's been another month, and luckily this time I had the time and window of good health to let me tackle the scariness of making my very own puff pastry...... from scratch! Dun dun dun!

In fact, this actually wasn't half as scary as I thought it would be. Making your own puff pastry takes some time, as you need to allow quite a lot of chilling time in the process, but the actual work time is quite short (It also allows you to justify the purchase of a marble pastry board, and I'm exceedingly happy to state that no extremities were harmed in the dropping of said pastry board during the making of this challenge). Forming the vols au vent does actually take a little while, but they can easily be made ahead of time and frozen (uncooked) until you need to use them so you don't have to be slaving over a sharp cookie cutter, covered in flour, when you would rather be greeting guests and enjoying a beer.

My four creations: a breakfast flower, Christmas circle, tuna star and apple flower.

I decided to try out four different fillings for my vols au vent:
  • Breakfast: creamy scrambled eggs with bacon and fresh chives, served with a panfried mushroom perched atop;
  • Tuna Mornay: tuna, corn and sweet mustard pickles stirred through a cheesy white sauce;
  • Christmas: turkey breast, English spinach, leek and cranberries with a light white sauce;
  • Apple Delight: stewed apples (with cinnamon, brown sugar, orange zest and sultanas) served with warm custard.
Clearly I had high hopes that my puff would actually live up to its name, as I invited friends around for dinner to enjoy some puffy action with me and my housemate. I figured that if the puff didn't rise to the occasion then at least I could just plop the fillings on top anyway and it should all still taste good.

Some of my vols au vent cooling and patiently awaiting their fillings

It was an anxious wait after putting the first batch into the oven, peering through the door to see any sign of rising. As I'd made my shells the night before and kept them in the freezer, they took a little longer than the recipe states to start rising, and just as I was beginning to think my dreams of being a pastry chef (in my own kitchen) were oozing away like the butter in puff pastry that's been left out too long, I began to see some rise! Oh man, happy days. Yep, I'm not ashamed to admit that a well risen puff gets me excited. In the pants (to quote fellow blogger Steph).

It was a bit of a kitchen juggling act to have all the fillings ready to go at once, but soon we were all sitting down to a plate of three pastrified treats with a little side greenery.

Dinner is served

We all decided that it only seemed proper to begin with breakfast, and ate our "breakfast" ones first. We were unsure which of the two remaining ones would be more for lunch or for dinner, but I think I went with the tuna next and followed it up with the turkey. And then we followed all three up with a little extra of the leftover fillings and wished we had saved our little "caps" to dunk in the extra filling. Nevermind, more pastry goodness was soon on the way, with dessert.

Apple delight vol au vent, with stewed apples, sultanas, a sprinkling of coconut and apple skin curls, sitting in a bed of warm custard

So, my verdict of this challenge? I had heard there is nothing quite like freshly made puff pastry, and now I realise how true this is. I have seen the light. Quite frankly, if you eat too much of this you may well be seeing the light, and your life flashing before you, as it's not exactly for the calorie-conscious but it is totally worth it. Plus you get to bash the crap out of a massive pile of butter with a big rolling pin. What's not to like?

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

You will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lamb Stroganovski

Although I admit I'm somewhat bummed at having yet another cold, it's not all bad news as it lead to last night's meal in a couple of ways. Firstly, as I alluded to in my previous post, I've been watching a bit of Bizarre Foods lately, and saw the St Petersburg episode the other day. Apart from teaching me to never, ever consider eating pickled lamprey (I think he described it as "horrifying", which is alarming coming from a man who loves to get stuck into a nice plate of mystery meat or tuna sperm) it also inspired me to make a stroganoff sometime soon. Of course, the traditional dish is a beef stroganoff, but I tweaked the recipe to make it with lamb instead. I will certainly not be following in the footsteps of my Dad, who when in Russia a couple of years ago, accidentally ordered Liver Stroganoff.

This particular recipe comes from the much loved Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook. My Mum has had this cookbook for as long as I can remember, and although I couldn't find a year of publication, the recommended price is $3.98 which gives a hint to its age. This is my go-to cookbook for many traditional recipes, being particularly well used when I went through my pancakes-for-dessert-every-night stage when I was younger, and it also tells you things like how to joint a chicken, fillet a fish and make your own mixed peel.

My beloved personal copy of The Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook

It was a very happy day when my parents returned from a holiday in Queensland a few years ago with, amongst the usual present haul of t-shirts and fridge magnets, a very special present for me - my very own copy of the cookbook. I was ecstatic. My Dad actually spied it in a second hand stall, and funnily enough they were asking $4 for it - only 2 cents dearer than the original $3.98 asking price. I no longer had to call up my Mum to ask her to read out a recipe to me over the phone, or scan and email me a copy, although as I discovered yesterday I do still need to call her to double check all her little amendments to the recipes that she's tweaked over the years.

The second reason that this meal was assisted by my cold was the fact that in my current state I decided to give Coles Online a try. The thought of getting out of my pyjamas and facing a supermarket just seemed impossible, and although my housemate was happy to go do my bidding, I thought it was a good opportunity to test the Coles Online waters. Plus, I had quite a few things, some quite particular, that I wanted to stock up on, and didn't want to hand my housemate an essay for a shopping list.

How did I get in this aisle?

So, I spent some time on Wednesday logging on and virtually shopping. In some aspects it was a little disappointing, as the choice is much more limited than in a real Coles supermarket so only particular varieties or brands of some items are offered, and some things just aren't available at all (no fresh rhubarb! Waah!). It seems to be pretty good for staples though, and I admit that I took great delight in ordering particularly heavy things. No multiple trips with piles of bags hanging off each arm, only to drop my keys when trying to get in my front door, hooray!

So, I eagerly awaited my grocery delivery yesterday afternoon during my selected delivery window, hoping that my strawberries would not be mouldy and my tinned soup would not be on top of my eggs. Well, my delivery window that I selected was 4pm-6pm, and the delivery arrived at exactly 6pm. The delivery man was very friendly, and also seemed to be much more intelligent than the friends of my neighbours, as he managed to figure out which door bell belongs to my apartment.

Coles have some legal thing where they will not enter your residence to put your shopping down for you, so we played a little game of pass the bag as he handed me bags and I placed them down on my loungeroom floor. I then signed his form and got opening! The first thing I noticed was that the bag containing my chocolate ice creams actually smelled like chocolate. Not a good sign. Opening up one of the boxes, I discovered that they had gone very soft, which I made a note of on my little order slip and raced them into the freezer. I also noticed that a couple of the items I was unfamiliar with when purchasing were quite different to the picture on the website, so I made a couple of mistakes by buying things thinking they were something else.

I guess it could have been worse ("Hot with a Chance of a Late Storm" by The Glue Society, at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2006 (Colectiva 2006))

When you select your items, you can say whether or not you'll accept a substitution if that item is not available, and I was somewhat unhappy to see that my "extra trim stir fry lamb" that was on sale at $15/kilo had been substituted with normal stir fry lamb at $19/kilo. Better than no lamb at all, though. Oh and finally, my matches were nowhere to be found! It's a good thing I wasn't desperate to light a birthday cake last night.

I just got off the phone with the customer service line for Coles Online, and after speaking to a very friendly chap I now have a credit on my account for the ice creams and the matches. Apparently they have an issue with ice creams melting a little when they are waiting for the vans at the warehouse, and they are going to address it.

So, I think that Coles Online is definitely worth using if you can't get yourself to the supermarket, but it seems a good idea to stick to items that you're familiar with (in case the picture is misleading) and order easily meltable items with caution. At least the customer service seems top notch, and I have some free refrozen oddly shaped ice creams for my trouble.

Lamb Stroganoff with fettuccine and little white and green trees

Now, onto last night's dinner! My Mum has been using her own version of the Women's Weekly Beef Stroganoff recipe for years and years, and it is often requested at bring-a-dish family dos. I've taken her version of the recipe and tweaked it some more to make it a lamb stroganoff instead, and I guess there are a number of other meats you could also use. Just not lamprey.

Lamb Stroganoff
Adapted from my Mum's version of The Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook beef stroganoff recipe

750 g trim lamb, cut into strips across the grain
Butter/olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
600 g button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup stock (I used chicken, I wished for homemade lamb stock!)
250 g (half a tin) condensed tomato soup
300 mL light sour cream
1 Tb cornflour

1. In a hot pan**, sear the meat very quickly, in batches, using butter or olive oil. Set aside.
2. Add more butter/oil to pan and add the onion, sautéing until lightly brown. Add the mushrooms and more butter, gently sautéing until they are tender.

It will look like a ridiculous amount of mushrooms, but they reduce down a lot.

3. Return the meat to the pan, also adding the stock/water and tomato soup, stirring until combined. Season. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
4. Mix the sour cream and cornflour together in a bowl, stirring until well combined. Gradually add this mixture to the pot, stirring until meat mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Serve with pasta and vegetables. I chose to serve with fettuccine, cauliflower and brocolli.

This version of the recipe is admittedly lacking in the real meaty taste of the beef version, as that uses beef and beef stock. So, if you're a beef lover I'd recommend you go that route instead. I really think this recipe could be improved with the use of some lamb stock instead of chicken, to bring out a more lamby taste. Having said this however, it is still a very tasty dish and my housemate happily took leftovers off to work with her today.

Oh and speaking of leftovers - the original recipe states that it serves four people. Well, we both managed to get a good feed out of it last night, and also made up five extra meals for the fridge/freezer with the leftovers. So, I'd say it serves more like six people.

** Just like my Mum, I always make dishes like this using my Breville "Country Kitchen" cast iron electric frying pan. This thing makes EVERYTHING taste better, and is totally worth the grunting effort required to lug it out of the cupboard. I just tried to find a link to it on the Breville website though, and it seems to not be made anymore? Good god, I had better not break mine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

West End Girl

After first reading about West End Deli on Palace Foods a while back, I decided it sounded like my kind of place and within a couple of weeks I'd made it down there to try out their lunch menu with a friend. Somehow I seem to have forgotten to write about it since then, so hopefully this month+ old review is still current. Well, we're pretty much still enjoying(?) the same weather we were hiding from a month ago, so I suspect their menu will still be similarly wintery and hearty.

The decor is charmingly mismatched, feeling both unfinished and welcoming, and giving you something other than the painfully cool fellow patrons to check out if you're alone or whilst your dining partner powders their nose. It has a distinctly cafe feel to it. but the menu reads more like a bistro. I guess the best comparison I can make is to the Beaufort Street Merchant, although I've heard that they've recently significantly changed their menu and jacked up the prices. Sigh.

After sitting ourselves down at one of the inside tables we got to investigating the menu. The breakfast menu appears to be available all day, and whilst it seems quite limited there were a couple of dishes that caught my eye - "porridge with banana mousse and chocolate chips $11", and "eggs on toast $11 with marinated tomato, olives & goat's curd $8". I think a breakfast return visit is on the cards.

I found it quite difficult to settle on my lunch dish on this particular day. The pork and rabbit terrine piqued my interested, and pork hock is always tempting. Having read rave reviews about the shellfish bisque (with mussels, creme fraiche and tobikko $13) and their housebaked breads I was tossing up between the bisque and a mushroom foccacia, but eventually chose the "marinated zucchini, kipfler potato, olive and mint salad $16" whilst my friend chose the "beef cheek, soft semolina, roasted shallots and bordelaise sauce $24".

Our waiter was friendly and attractive, which is always a bonus, and helped make my decision after assuring me that the salad would be a filling meal, given the potatoes and egg in it (the egg is not included in the menu description) and the bread it is served with.

We didn't have to wait long for our meals, helped I'm sure by the fact we were only one of two or three occupied tables during this late lunch. During our leisurely stay however, it soon filled up with even later lunchers and people enjoying afternoon tea.

Side serving of bread (complimentary)

The bread was obviously baked that day, being so beautifully soft, and we soon found ourselves finishing the entire plate with our meals even though neither of us are big bread eaters these days. Hey, most of it was air, anyway, right?

Beef cheek, soft semolina, roasted shallots and bordelaise sauce ($24) with the added bonus of some marrow perched on top

We couldn't help but "ooh" when the beef cheek came out, and our waiter informed us the chef had added some lovely wobbley (my words, not his) bone marrow on top. This really is the perfect winter dish - hearty, rich and filling. I was watching "Bizarre Foods" last night and Andrew Zimmern was getting stuck into a similar looking dish of beef cheek and waxing lyrical about the wonderfully gelatinous connective tissue. That may well be the case, but I will refrain from using the words "connective tissue" when discussing food, if you don't mind Andrew.

Marinated zucchini, kipfler potato, olive and mint salad ($16)

Such a refreshing, interesting and filling salad. I'm not a huge fan of mint in large quantities, and was a little concerned when I saw the large leaves littered through the salad, but the flavours worked together so beautifully I need not have worried. The dressing was light and zesty and I'm glad I trusted the chef enough not to ask for the dressing on the side. The salad however did not seem to have any egg, despite what the waiter had said previously, and I assumed I had misheard him given that egg is not listed on the menu. When one of these salads was later served to the table next to us, and it did indeed have egg quarters throughout it, I mentioned the lack of egg to another waiter who cleared our plates and he was incredibly apologetic. I really enjoyed it sans-egg so I wasn't too concerned.

Chocolate brownie

We decided to try their coffees and desserts, and my friend went to choose a tasty morsel from the selection of baked goods while I took in my surroundings a little more. He soon returned with a chocolate brownie and the promise of two long blacks to come. I must admit I can't really remember how good the coffees were, but I'm sure I'd remember if they were bad! The brownie was deliciously rich, and I ended up taking half of it home with me to finish off for afternoon tea later that day. While we were enjoying the coffees and brownie, the apologetic waiter returned with a Portugese tart for me, making up for the missing egg with some baked egg! I took the tart home and really had a good afternoon tea, though I would have called the tart more of a lemon tart than a Portugese one. Lemon or Portugese, it was good.

West End Deli is definitely on my list of return-visit cafes, and I look forward to seeing how their menu changes to match the seasons.

West End Deli
95 Carr Street (corner Strathcona), West Perth (the north of the Freeway part of West Perth)
Phone: 08 9328 3605
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-4pm
West End Deli on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Spring has sprung! Well, technically spring has sprung, but somebody better get Spotty to go tell Mother Nature because it doesn't quite feel like it yet. Regardless, a friend and I thought we'd celebrate spring's arrival the best way we knew how - some good old fashioned eatin'.

Another friend recently told me about a Japanese restaurant called Ha-Lu up the northern end of Oxford St, almost where it meets Scarborough Beach Road. I can remember that there is a pet shop, an op shop, and I think also a sex shop of some sort up there, but I had no idea that a Japanese restaurant was hiding up there too amongst the dog biscuits and old copies of National Geographic. After checking out their website, and indeed confirming that was where they were located, I was very curious to check it out.

According to their website, the dining style at Ha-Lu is "izakaya style", which "encourages social interaction around the table, with the idea of a number of dishes to be ordered and shared. Most diners will order two or three dishes per person to be placed in the middle and tried by everyone at the table. Various dishes will arrive as soon as they have been prepared by the chef ensuring the highest quality of freshness and flavour".

I called to make a reservation the day before we wanted to eat there, and requested a table for 7:30. The softly spoken girl who answered the phone asked if I could instead make it 7:15, which puzzled me a little but I agreed to. As it turns out, I managed to get away from work at a reasonable time and we actually arrived at the restaurant at 7:00, which didn't cause any problems (apart from me saying we were early for our 'appointment' rather than our 'booking' or 'reservation'.... I think I've been seeing too many doctors lately!).

The decor inside is quite modern, with a few nice touches such as fabric hangings to walk through to get to the toilets. No cool Japanese touches in the toilets though I'm afraid - the toilet itself was totally analogue.

After checking out the sashimi of the day - salmon, tuna and kingfish - we spent some time going through the rest of the menu. It really is quite interesting and had a number of dishes and ingredients that I was unfamiliar with. The waitstaff were all absolutely lovely, and very happy to explain anything to you. We eventually settled on some miso soup ($2.50), sashimi of the day ($18.00), agedashi tofu ($8.50), octopus kara-age and lotus root hasami-age ($12.00), spicy ginger pork ($14.00) and Patagonian toothfish nitsuke ($18.00).

Miso soup $2.50

There's something about drinking miso out of these little wooden bowls that makes it taste better, I think. I really should buy myself one for home, as my coffee mug doesn't quite have the same effect (despite being beautifully decorated by my goddaughter's crayon expertise).

Sashimi of the day (salmon, tuna and kingfish), with tiny tiny shavings of carrot, zucchini and spring onion $18.00

The sashimi was wonderfully fresh and thickly sliced, and went down an absolute treat. The tuna was so creamy I could have eaten all three pieces but I value my friendship with my dining partner and restrained my chopsticks. The super thin curls of carrot, zucchini and spring onion were also nice and fresh.

Agedashi tofu (deep fried silken tofu served in a Tentsuyu dashi broth) $8.50

This dish was intriguing to behold, as all the little feathery pieces of thinly shaved something (I mean the tan coloured light-as-a-feather things - not sure what they are?) continued to 'flap' in the air after the dish was placed down, and looked exactly like a swarm of little moths had latched onto the tofu. Silken is the perfect word for this tofu, though you could also say 'goopy, but in a great way'. The coating around each piece was very light, but due to the silken texture of the tofu inside it was much easier to pop the whole thing in your mouth instead of trying to break it into pieces.

Octopus kara-age and lotus root hasami-age (octopus kara-age served with deep fried lotus roots with Tsukune mince fillings and a Ume plum sauce) $12.00

The ocopus pieces were well seasoned, hot and crunchy, and not at all tough (mind you, they were pretty small, so toughness wouldn't have caused too great an issue with chewing anyway). When our waiter brought this dish over he told us that the sauce was a plum sauce, but it's not sour because they put something special in it. We were intrigued, and I'm not sure why we didn't ask what this special something is. It was actually quite sweet, and paired well with the fried morsels.

Spicy ginger pork (sautéed sliced pork belly with homemade spicy kimchi pickles and ginger soy sauce) $14.00

Although I'm not a fan of eating fat, and admit to picking out the bigger bits of it before eating my pieces of pork, I really liked this dish. The sauce surrounding the pork belly was deliciously yet lightly spiced, and I used more than my share of the cabbage to mop up the leftover dribbles. The mayonnaise remained untouched by either of us. Poor mayo.

Patagonian toothfish nitsuke (succulent and tender Patagonian toothfish simmered in a soy sauce and dashi broth) $18.00

I don't think I've had Patagonian toothfish before, and although I liked it I don't know if I'll have it again as I've just learnt that it is fished by trawling. I found it very soft and quite fishy in taste, which suits me but may not be everyone's cup of broth. The broth itself had an interesting flavour - the first adjective that comes to mind is "dirty" which clearly isn't a terribly appetising word but I'm not sure how else to describe it. It was a nice dirt, I can assure you.

I wasn't quite full after having more than my fair share of these dishes, so quickly agreed to having a look at the dessert menu when it was offered. It is a pretty limited dessert menu, and didn't take me long to choose the "chocolate berry sundae" ($9.50), which I asked to not have any cream in, although my friend made up for this by ordering the "home made cream caramel" ($7.50).

Home made cream caramel $7.50

He enjoyed the creme caramel, saying it had a nice flavour and texture. I was more concerned with the cute little dish it came in, which he posed perfectly for the photo :)

Chocolate berry sundae $8.50

And, I've saved the best photo for last! Check out this for a crazy sundae. Coco Pops? Cornflakes? It was a bit difficult to eat at first, given how full the glass is (with coco pops!), and I sadly lost a raspberry to the table. Hiding down the bottom was more icecream and berries, and thick chunks of chocolate. I wasn't feeling particularly breakfasty so I did my best to dig around the cereal but ended up eating quite a lot of it anyway and I guess it added a nice crunch.

The service was fantastic, really friendly, helpful and efficient. Overall I really enjoyed our meal here, and am looking forward to going back to try all the other dishes that caught my eye but weren't the chosen ones this time (although I'm not sure I'll be trying the "deep fried crumbed camembert cheese served with blueberry sauce"). They also have a smaller takeaway menu, and quite a few people came in during our meal to pick up takeaway bento boxes.

I would definitely recommend booking a table, as we went on a Tuesday and it was pretty packed, with some tables turning over a few times while we were there. Although, if you just rock up and have to wait for a table, at least you can amuse yourself browsing in the sex shop or reminding yourself what you look like in flares.

Shop4, 401 Oxford Street, Mt Hawthorn
Phone: 08 9444 0577
Website: halu.net.au
Email: info@halu.net.au (email responses are generally within 24 hours)
Hours: Dinner from 6pm, 7 days a week

Ha-Lu on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Podtastic Birthday

I awoke this morning feeling hungover. Having not enjoyed even a drop of booze last night, I can only think that this is a sugar-induced hangover, induced by the massive slice of cake I scoffed around midnight.

It was a friend's birthday, and prior to midnight cake activities we first celebrated by going to The Ellington Jazz Club. I've been meaning to get down there since it opened around the start of the year, and after one false start when I had to cancel plans to go due to being too swiney for public interaction, I finally made it. It's pretty damn cool, and once this wet weather buggers off I can foresee myself walking down there for some jazz enjoyment of an evening. In addition to supplying you with Jazz and drinks, they also have a small tapas style menu, and we enjoyed the chorizo pizza and Turkish bread plate. Neither were spectacular, but pretty tasty and kept us going until cake o'clock.

It was after 11pm by the time the final set ended, and then we set off back home for "Phase Two" of the birthday celebrations. The birthday girl was unaware as to what Phase Two involved, but despite unsettling her with talk of greased up strippers we only had a (non-stripper) present and some cake to offer. Earlier in the week, not knowing what to get the birthday girl as a gift, I asked my housemate what tickles her fancy in terms of desserts, and was told she has a Pods obsession. And thus, a Podtastic birthday cake was born.

I decided to make a double layer chocolate cake, with a caramel filling between the two layers, finished off with chocolate frosting and dotted with Pods on top. I also decided to try out a new chocolate cake recipe, going with yet another recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. This recipe is actually for their "chocolate birthday cupcakes", but they also use it for one of the cakes in the small 'layer cakes' section in the back of the book so I thought I'd give it a go. I was quite happy with how the cakes turned out. Nice and even, with a moist crumb, and good chocolate flavour with just a hint of coffee to it.

For the caramel filling I thought I'd follow the Crabapple recipe for their "my not-so-secret caramel filling" but I wish I'd stuck to my own recipe! You see, their recipe involves boiling a tin of condensed milk for a couple of hours to make a caramel, then letting it cool and folding through a cup of whipped cream. The caramel was lovely and thick and rich, and I should have just used it straight as a filling, or thinned out with a little whipped cream. Instead I added the whole cup of cream as per the recipe, and the resulting mix was way too runny to act as a decent filler. You'll see in the photos how tiny and lame a filling layer I got, but at least the cake was moist enough so that it didn't matter too much for the cake's overall texture.

What happens to condensed milk after being boiled for two hours

For the chocolate frosting I used the usual chocolate fudge frosting recipe, making just half a batch of it.

The resulting cake was huge and heavy (in weight, not in texture!), and probably not the wisest thing to indulge in at midnight, but the heady jazz had make us reckless so we threw caution to the wind and went in with forks held high. Having barely made a dent in it, the birthday girl took half the leftovers home with her, and I'm taking the remains into my fortnightly research group meeting this morning to spread the cake love (and prevent my housemate and I from having simultanous sugar comas tonight).

Chocolate Birthday Cakes
Recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook

Makes 24 cupcakes (according to them, anyway, I'd guess that you'd get more out of this recipe) or 2 cakes

3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tb instant coffee granules
1 cup hot water
1 cup cocoa
1 cup cold water
200 g softened unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 Tb vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line either your cupcake trays with cupcake papers, or grease and line your two cake tins.
2. Sift together the flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coffee, hot water and cocoa until you have a smooth paste. Add the cold water and whisk until evenly combined.
4. In another separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
5. Add a quarter of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Repeat this process twice more. Add the remaining quarter of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined; do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.
6. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about 3/4 full. To prevent the cupcakes cracking on top, allow the mixture to sit in the cupcake papers for 20 minutes before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.


6. Divide the mixture between the two cakes tins. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean (I actually had to bake mine for 48 minutes before they were ready).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let's get botanical, tanical..

Given how long I've been sick this winter, I've fallen out of my usual 6am pump class routine in favour for lounging around in bed until a much more civilised hour (well, not that much more civilised in the past couple of weeks as my powerpoint slides had been calling to me, requiring revision). This all changed on Friday though, when I pulled myself out of bed into the freezing early morning air and got myself a-pumpin' while the sun was still thinking about coming up.

As per usual, I got through the hard bits by focusing on my goal - the cooked breakfast that I knew I'd soon be enjoying. Sure, some people like to focus on the great body they are working towards with all the lifting and straining, but by now you should not be surprised to learn that my goal is all about the food. Each lat raise or chest press is one step closer to my steaming long black and softly poached eggs.

The Botanical Cafe in Kings Park, with the Perth skyline in the background

After a quick discussion my pump-buddy and I decided to get our fix of hot breakfasty goodness from the Botanical Cafe in Kings Park, a beautiful location on such a fine (if not freezing) morning. We had eaten breakfast here a few times before, and had been impressed with the quality of the food. Particularly impressive is the house-smoked salmon, which we were delighted to learn is a lovely big fillet of salmon, lightly smoked to perfection.

The menu is decent, with a couple more interesting dishes thrown in among the usual items. I will generally gravitate towards one of the more interesting items on a breakfast menu, but for some reason I kept it very standard this time. Perhaps it was because it had been such a long time between cooked breakfasts for me (not counting the hot porridge I have every morning) but I finally decided upon the decidedly non-interesting combination of poached eggs with extra grilled mushrooms and ham. Luckily my fellow breakfaster chose the "Home made baked beans on Turkish bread with poached eggs and dukkah", which I have had before and really enjoyed (I may possibly have also ordered some salmon to accompany it when I had it, which was entirely unnecessary and most normal people would not require such a pile of food!).

The Botanical Cafe has a quite different feel to its 'sister' restaurant in Kings Park, Fraser's. It's much more a casual cafe, where you order and pay at the counter, and there are some TVs scattered around showing the morning news. The service however is quite good, and the open kitchen allows customers to observe the chef's attention to detail.

Our coffees came out reasonably quickly, and were nice and hot, with little bitterness. The food followed soon after, complete with a little wooden box holding our cutlery and napkins. We did have to go searching for the pepper grinder ourselves, but you're totally sorted if you want to squirt piles of ketchup, mustard or steak sauce on your food as these bottles are on every table. I find "steak sauce" to be a suspiciously ambiguous name, though not as suspiciously ambiguous as "brown sauce".

Poached eggs on sour dough toast ($12), with extra mushrooms and ham ($3 each)

Now, after posting this photo of my breakfast, I'm regretting not ordering something more impressive looking. Happily though, I enjoyed eating it. The eggs were softly poached, and oozed very nicely over my toast when attacked with my knife, and although I was disappointed with the amount of mushrooms I got, they were so nice and big and meaty that this wasn't such a big deal. The ham came out cold, and I realised I should have asked to have it grilled a little, but it tasted freshly sliced and was a great accompaniment to the rest of the dish.

Home made baked beans on Turkish bread with poached eggs and dukkah ($15.50) with extra spinach ($3)

Right, well this dish offers a little more in terms of looks! Whilst the beans certainly aren't the best "home made" ones I've eaten out for breakfast, and don't pack a huge punch with flavour, they are tasty nonetheless and also have a good bite to them. I think the addition of the spinach is great, offering more dimensions to the colours and textures of the dish, and it would do well for the spinach to be a regular part of it. The Turkish bread is fresh and warm and perfect for mopping up the beans.

I can recommend the Botanical Cafe for a nice breakfast in a beautiful location. I have to say though, if you go here for breakfast then 'do as I say, not as I do' and try the smoked salmon, it's lovely.

Botanical Cafe
Fraser's Avenue, Kings Park, Perth
Visit their Website for menus
Phone: 08 9482 0122
Winter opening hours: 7am until late, 7 days a week

P.S. To all the Perthites out there, the regular Friends of Kings Park native plant sale is coming up again soon - 25th to 28th September from 10am to 5pm in the Forrest Carpark. They're all endemic WA species and good prices too, so get down there over the long weekend if you have a chance.

P.P.S. A huge thank you to Katherine from A cupcake or two for awarding me second place in her cupcake competition, for my Banana and Macadamia cupcakes entry! Yay! I will soon be the proud owner of two Cup-a-Cake containers! Thanks Katherine :D

Botanical Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 4, 2009

Like a phoenix (chook) from the ashes (oven)

What a wonderful few days I've had, and it feels so good to top them off by finally having time to spend on here! I've been a hermit for the past few weeks, as I picked up yet another winter illness (strep throat this time... it seems I'm ticking them all off and trying for a gold star) and also have been incredibly busy preparing for my PhD proposal defence which was held on Monday. As far as milestones go in my PhD, this was a pretty major one, and I am so amazingly happy and relieved to report that it went really well! So, I am officially now allowed to continue with my research and cross my fingers that in another 18 months time I will be hopefully somewhere close to adding "Dr" onto my credit cards.

Monday's greatness continued on by me winning Round 22 of my footy tipping competition, which also resulted in me winning the home & away season! Oh, and after weeks and weeks of illness, I also finally felt well enough Monday, Wednesday and today to get back to my second home - the gym - and happily survived pump classes without feeling like too much of a weakling. I don't think I'll quite throw myself back into my usual routine, but it's nice to know my muscles haven't entirely wasted away to nothing.

Now, of course one of the best things about now having more time up my sleeve, not being confined to either a sickbed or my computer and powerpoint slides, is that I have time to cook again! Hooray! I actually had to miss the August Daring Bakers' Challenge, which I was none too pleased about (sorry Lorraine, it looked like such a great challenge, too! Hopefully I'll get around to trying it in a non-DB way) but I'm feeling like my cooking groove is back. In fact, I was feeling reasonably confident about my slides and defence practice on Sunday night, so I made up a batch of my tried and true Macadamia Anzac Biscuits to give to my defence panel afterwards (I made sure to give it to them after so that it didn't seem like I was trying to grease them up - in more ways than one, ha ha).

To get back into my savoury cooking groove, I also went along a very well loved, and tried and true recipe, my roast chook (chicken for the non Aussie-vernacular minded). Thinking about this chicken, I seem to have made it for almost everyone I've ever cooked for. Friends I stayed with in Montreal, multiple friends I've stayed with in Perth (when I was in my inbetween-houses phase), family members when they've come to stay at my house, and most notably some friends that I visited in Stockholm earlier this year. I say most notably because one of these friends is Italian, and has quite particular thoughts about food (and is a great cook) and she said that this meal actually changed her mind about English cooking.

So, Tuesday night I made my roast chook for someone new, my housemate. She came home Monday night with a bottle of champagne to celebrate my proposal defence success, and after both cheering at the prospect of getting stuck into it we both realised that I was still taking antibiotics for my throat. So, into the fridge it went until Tuesday when I took my last pill (of 50! Glad it's over!), and I thought I'd whip up something nice for dinner for us both.

I don't always make the same sides to go with the roast, although they ALWAYS include roast spuds (potatoes). I decided this time to also include some roast pumpkin and sweet potato, some orange roasted asparagus and of course some gravy. Oh, and freshly made stuffing, following my Mum's famous, and deliciously simple, recipe.

As is the norm with such meals that we all have been making for years, I don't follow a recipe for this dish but I was determined to be really good and make notes so that I could put a proper recipe on here. Ummm, I guess I am a little out of my blogging state of mind, because I started off well then totally forgot to follow this through. I also dropped the ball in a big way in terms of photography. I again started off really well, making sure to get some shots of the stuffing after I made it, and then totally forgot to take any more until I was heating up some leftovers for lunch the next day!

So..uhh....here are a couple of half-arsed photos of my delicious roast dinner which I don't have a recipe for. Hopefully my blog-brain will return soon..

Tasty stuffing, ready to move into it's new chickeny home

Roast leftovers, about to be eaten for lunch the next day

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About Me

My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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